Last significant public transport strike today; Both sides return to contract talks
Staff in regional transport are striking on Wednesday during the Provincial Council and water board elections, but then trade unions FNV and CNV will suspend the strikes until next Friday. The suspension should give negotiations between the trade unions and employers a chance, the unions announced at a large demonstration in Utrecht on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s strike will affect almost all of Arriva’s bus lines and several trains. Bus travelers in all regions must take canceled buses into account “to a greater or lesser extent” throughout the day, the public transport reported.
The local buses are running in all regions, however. The Arriva trains in Friesland, Groningen, and on the Vechtdal lines will run as usual on Wednesday, as will the express bus from Groningen to Leer and the one between Maastricht and Heerlen. The Arriva trains in Limburg and Achterhoek Rivierenland are not running. “It turned out to be impossible to run a suitable timetable with the number of people willing to work.” Arriva advised travelers to check the travel planner before departure.
The strike on Wednesday led to extra discussion because it coincided with the Provincial Council and water board elections. The Eye Association, among others, criticized the strike, saying it would make it difficult for blind and visually impaired people to get to a polling station accessible to them.
At a large demonstration in Utrecht on Tuesday, the unions suggested suspending the strike on Wednesday. But that was met with boos from the activists present. “The reaction of those present shows how much people in regional transport have had enough,” Marijn van der Gaag of FNV said. “The workload is so extremely heavy. Solutions really have to be found.”
The FNV can live with the compromise of suspending the strikes from Thursday to next week Friday to give negotiations with employers a chance. “This means we will have ten days to reach a result together. But if employers persist, we have a problem,” Van der Gaag said.
CNV negotiator Hanane Chikhi also said the union could accept the compromise. Though satisfied “is perhaps not the right word,” he said. On March 24, the unions will evaluate whether the negotiations are progressing. “But if we really can’t figure it out, the strikes will continue after next Friday.”
Reporting by ANP